Online shopping is more popular than ever for its convenience, but comes with inherent pitfalls. Fortunately, most can be avoided. That’s why it is so important to make sure you are taking precautions when buying this holiday season.
Always protect personal information like your name, address and credit/debit card numbers by ensuring you are on a secure website. The easiest way to do that is to make sure the letter “S” appears at the end of HTTP in the URL code, and avoid using public Wi-Fi when making online purchases.
Be sure to look at the fine print to ensure you’re purchasing exactly what you want. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers use email to convince you they are from a reputable retailer, but always check the store’s official site to confirm it is the real deal. If purchasing gift cards, know the terms and the expiration date.
After buying online, it is likely those purchases will be delivered to your home. Most companies now offer notifications as to when your package arrives, and you can track the process for an approximate delivery time and date. But if you are unable to be at home, see if the retailer has an in-store pick up to ensure your items are not stolen. Work with a trusted neighbor or family member to watch each other’s properties and pick up delivered packages as soon as possible
When shopping at traditional retail stores, do not be an easy target for theft. Conceal your purchases in the trunk of a car or bring a blanket to cover them up if stored inside your vehicle.
Secure your wallet and cash at all times while out shopping, and make sure to check bank and credit card statements in a timely fashion to ensure there are no surprise or unnecessary charges. Use a credit card where possible as it is easier to dispute a charge than with a debit card.
Despite our finest efforts, bad actors are sometimes able to get the best of us. If you believe you are a victim of a scam, please file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. A consumer complaint can be filed at IndianaConsumer.com or call 1-800-382-5516.